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Logan Lucky

‘Logan Lucky’ is like the ‘Ocean’s 11’ movies without the stylish class. Instead of having suave, smooth talkers, ‘Logan Lucky’ has a gaggle of crooked miscreants eternally up to no good. This may sound like a recipe for disaster but in the hands of director Steven Soderbergh, it works. It also helps that he was the person responsible for the ‘Ocean’s 11’ movies with a welcome return to directing after several years away. He has lost none of story-telling flair with a loopy yarn giving the groovy Ocean’s 11 crew a run for their money.

Jimmy (Channing Tatum), Mellie (Riley Keogh) and Clyde Logan (Adam Driver) are on a mission. Wanting to divest themselves of the family curse of having zero dollars, they plan the ultimate heist. Aiming to conduct a daring robbery during a popular motor race, they cobble a sure-fire path to endless cash. They are helped by several shady customers such as Joe (Daniel Craig) who is only too happy to assist. With special agent Grayson (Hilary Swank) arriving to track them down, the familial unit attempt to move things into high gear before disaster strikes.

Thanks to Soderbergh’s accomplished direction, ‘Logan Lucky’ zips along nicely. Pacing is its main asset as the labyrinthine plot goes like clockwork. Like any good heist movie, ‘Logan Lucky’ is about the characters. On their own they are eccentric strangers, but together they provide a multitude of fun mayhem. Soderbergh’s talent for making the ordinary seem extraordinary is effectively shown. Despite this events are grounded in authenticity as you see why the characters behave the way they do.

Like any good movie ‘Logan Lucky’ rests on the shoulders of great performers. Tatum, Craig, Driver and others give solid renditions of their desperately weird personas. Their strange ways make them unpredictable which in turn makes watching them more engaging. The chemistry between the actors is obvious and the strong screenplay, direction and action make for a beguiling mix.

‘Logan Lucky’ proves you don’t need to look swish and smooth to conjure a cool heist movie. It has smooth coolness anyway with a top-notch script and cast successfully conveying the enjoyment factor through the screen. It’s good seeing Soderbergh back at the helm and hopefully he doesn’t leave it too long until his next enthusiastic big screen caper.

Rating out of 10: 8

The Dark Tower

Movies based on books by Stephen King have often been hit and miss. For every ‘Carrie’ and ‘Christine’, there have been duds like ‘Sleepwalkers’ and ‘The Lawnmower Man’, with not many falling in between. Perhaps it’s the lack of imagination on the film-maker’s part rather than King’s as he has written some excellent work. Derived from his eight book series, ‘The Dark Tower’ blends a myriad of genres in a very bland package. Predictability has never been one of King’s mainstays with only cinematic forays like these muddying the author’s allure.

Discovering another dimension called Mid-World, young Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) sets on an amazing journey. Upon entering the new world, he meets mysterious gun-slinging cowboy Roland (Idris Elba) who is on an important mission. Roland wants to reach The Dark Tower, which is in End-World. There he must prevent a cataclysm threatening to consume all reality from the denizens of Hell. Only evil sorcerer Walter aka The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) can stop them. With obstacles at every turn, Jake and Roland must complete their quest before the universe is destroyed.

Despite the great cast, intriguing characters and arresting action scenes, ‘The Dark Tower’ amounts to very little. With so much to work from in King’s book franchise, the film version takes the blandest and simplest option. What has made his stories memorable is his unlimited scope and bravery in crafting complex characters rarely seen in ‘The Dark Tower’. What’s on offer is interesting, with Roland and Walter really magnetic characters, but their background is so sketchily done that it frustrates one considering what could have been.

‘The Dark Tower’ plays like an expensive pilot to a TV series. Given there actually is one in the works, this shouldn’t be a shock. What’s shocking is how little effort has gone into creating the truly expansive world King has provided the film-makers. Whilst the CGI is reasonable, the movie looks cheap with most of the budget seemingly gone into paying the top billed stars. The direction is adequate although with such a threadbare script to work from the film’s mechanics slowly grind to the ho-hum finale.

It’s disappointing watching a movie throw away the potential gift of King’s original books. After years of development hell, ‘The Dark Tower’ arrives in cinemas like stale wheat-bix whose tasty artifice has long since vanished. The latest Stephen King movie adaptation goes into the negative side of the ledger with a genuine hit needed to ensure more movie magic from the American king of fantastical horror.

Rating out of 10: 4